Fawad gunning for journalists again

News Desk
Sunday, Apr 02, 2023

KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader and former federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry has once again come down hard on journalists, warning that a list of certain journalists critical of the judges is being prepared and calling for their boycott.

And this isn’t the first time the PTI leader has hurled such threats. He issued similar threatening statements against journalists and judges several times in the past to undermine their independent way of working, according to a Geo News report.

Pakistan’s ranking on the freedom of speech index of Reporters without Borders (RWB) decreased by six points during the first two years of the PTI’s regime. Pakistan’s ranking on the index was 139th among 180 countries in 2018 and it lowered to 145th position in 2020. In the 2022 report of the RWB pertaining to the year 2021, Pakistan’s ranking further slid to 157th number. This shows the state of freedom of the press in Pakistan when Fawad Chaudhry served as federal information minister.

The trend on Twitter #ArrestAntiPakJournalists was launched during the regime of the PTI. According to the investigation report of the Digital Rights Monitor, the trend was propagated on Twitter with 57,000 tweets and retweets on July 4 and July 5, 2019.

Journalists in Pakistan continuously came under trolling attacks during the previous regime of the PTI.

Concerned international and Pakistani watchdogs like RWB, CPJ, IFJ, Amnesty International and HRCP continuously issued statements to condemn acts committed during the PTI’s regime to undermine the freedom of speech. During all this time, Fawad Chaudhry continuously made attempts to get passed the controversial Media Development Authority bill owing to which he had to face stiff opposition from the concerned representative bodies of journalists in Pakistan.

Fawad Chaudhry has once again started targeting journalists although he is no more in power. In a tweet on March 26, 2023, he came up with the demand to arrest two journalists critical of the PTI. Later, he claimed that he has started preparing a list of journalists who are critical of the PTI so as to boycott them.

He also alleged that certain journalists had been conducting a paid propaganda campaign to defame judges. It is worth mentioning that Fawad Chaudhry in the past and the preset has given threatening statements against judges several times.

Once, the former federal information minister warned that no one could ever dare to order the disqualification of Imran Khan as anyone taking such a daring step wouldn’t be allowed to leave Islamabad. He said that anyone thinking about such an option should first consider his own stature before saying anything like this.

While appearing on a TV show, Fawad Chaudhry said that the very survival of anyone disqualifying Imran Khan would be threatened.

When the reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa was disposed of, he claimed that he had opposed filing such a reference during the PTI’s regime. It is worth mentioning that the wife of Justice Isa, Sarina Isa, submitted an application to start contempt of court proceedings against Fawad Chaudhry when he gave a statement against Justice Isa. However, no action was taken on the application.

While appearing on TV, the former federal information minister said that he had opposed filing such a reference as initiating such proceedings would be viewed as an attempt on the part of the government to pressurise the judiciary.

It is worth mentioning here that before joining the PTI, Fawad Chaudhry served as the spokesman for former president Pervez Musharraf and remained associated with PML-Q and the PPP in the later stages. While appearing on a TV talk show at that time, he had once said that he was sure that PTI and the Jamaat-e-Islami acted in a manner as if they were the political wing of the Tehreek-e-Taliban.